The World Pairs Final 1971
Biggest casualties from the Semi-Finals this year were England, Australia, Norway and Denmark. All eliminated from the Western round at Leicester in June. New Zealand by Ivan Mauger and Barry Briggs won that meeting and went to the World Pairs Final as overwhelming favourites for the Gold Medals. And on July 11 at Rybnik in Poland, they faced off against a field that included the home team, already legend Andrzej Wyglenda and his very impressive partner from Opole, young rising star Jerzy Szczakiel, and Sweden by Anders Michanek and Bernt Persson.
It was Sunday evening before 25,000 excited fans that the meeting started on the slick, cinder covered track. Heat 1 saw a 5-1 for the home team over the Czechs and the Kiwis got the same over Scotland in heat 3. The following race really had the home crowd screaming as their heroes diced up the Swedes!
So heat 10 saw NZ v Sweden and while the Swedes gated, Briggo got past Mich while Ivan got past Bernie. But try as he desperately did, Ivan could find no way past Anders and the result was 4-2.
Then to the big one, heat 15. Poland V New Zealand. When you see it on You-Tube, from the inside is 1 Wyglenda. 10 Briggs. 2 Szczakiel. 9 Mauger. Wyglenda gates from Briggo and as Ivan tries to ride around Szczakiel, the amazing Polish ace fences him and drives around the outside of Briggo and passing Wyglenda for the lead going into the second turn! It's one of THE most amazing moves you can see, something Peter Collins and Erik Gundersen would go on to make their own. The 5-1 had Rybnik in raptures leaving the stunned Kiwis to shake their heads.
Three heats later the Poles took their sixth win and the Gold Medals unbeaten. FAB Virgil!!!
Mauger was glowing in his praise for the winners and the name Szczakiel would one day soon rock the Speedway world to the core!
1 Wyglenda Szczakiel Mares Verner
1st Poland 30
2nd New Zealand 25
3rd Sweden 22
4th CZ 17
5th Scotland 16
6th Yugoslavia 10
7th Austria 6
This article was first published on 27th July 2014
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